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Zechariah Chapter Four (4)


Zechariah 4

 Vision of the Lampstand and Olive Trees

 1 Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. 2 And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. 3 "Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left." 4 So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?" 5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord."  

(1) Angel who talked with me:  This is the same angel in the previous visions; he is Zechariah’s accompanying angel, who is explaining to him, what he sees. (Zechariah 1: 9, 13, 19; 2:3)

wakened me: Zechariah is now transitioning to another vision,(the 5th) from the one regarding Joshua son of Jehozadak, the High Priest.  This is all part of the same series of visions,  the forth vision, (Chapter 3) held Zechariah’s attention still.  Now his accompanying angel pulls him or wakens him from the previous vision, for the next.   The word,  rw [`uwr, means to rouse oneself, awake, awaken, incite.

(2) What do you see: Zechariah’s accompanying angel, asks, what he sees?  Zechariah was a priest, so he would have been familiar with what he next describes.

Lampstand: Zechariah describes something a priest would be familiar with aMenorah, or Lampstand (hrwnm). The Menorah was the light in the Tabernacle and Temple, and priests maintained the light.   The description of Zechariah;s vision is nearly identical to the description of the Menorah (Lampstand), God instructed Moses to build construct for the Tabernacle.


31 "You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. 32 "And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. 33 "Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower-and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand. 34 "On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower.  35 "And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand.  36 "Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece; all of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold. 37 "You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it. 38 "And its wick-trimmers and their trays shall be of pure gold. 39 "It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils. 0 "And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain. Exodus 25:31-40

In a sense, we have a picture of the Menorah used in the 2nd Temple, the one built by Zerubbabel and destroyed by Rome in A.D. 70. (see above) The Romans carved on the Arch of Titus in Rome, the Temple treasures, taken from the Temple to Rome by the victorious Romans, which destroyed the 2nd Temple. Included on their images, was an image of the solid gold Menorah taken from the Temple. (See above)

Solid gold:  The Temple’s Menorah and Zechariah’s Menorah made from solid gold, symbolize the light of God’s truth to the world. Gold symbolizes holiness and purity.

Bowl:  The bowl filled with Olive oil, is the source for the oil, which feeds the lamps. In the Temple it was the job of the priest to maintain the oil.  Here the bowl is over the lamp and feeds the lamp oil, from the Olive trees.

Seven lamps:From the center pipe, six pipes branched out, ending with lamps.  Exodus chapter 25:37 describes the seven lamps on the Menorah. 

            Jesus when he appeared to John in Revelation chapter one, was in the midst of seven golden lamps.  The lamps in Revelation represent the seven church’s, Christ’s light to the nations, through the church.

(3) Two olive trees:    The trees stood near the menorah, to the left and right of the bowl. Like the Menorah itself, this aspect also alludes to the Temple. Beaten Olive oil was fuel for the Menorah of both the Tabernacle and Temple.  Olive oil was also a chief ingredient in the anointing oil, for anointing kings and priests in Israel (Exodus 30:24). 

20 "And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. Exodus 27:20 

            Olive trees play a prominent role in scripture, not only are they the source of oil for the light in the Temple, but the doors of the Temple were made from Olive trees, as well as the carved Cherubs which covered the Mercy Seat in the Temple. (I Kings 6:23, 31-33). 

            The Mount of Olives, which stands opposite Jerusalem, facing the Temple’s East Gate, plays a prominent role in scripture. King David climbed the Mount of Olives crying as he was rejected by the people, in favor of his rebellious son Absalom (2 Sam. 15:30). Upon the Mount Jesus was taken into Heaven on a cloud (Acts 1:12), upon the Mount of Olives will the feet of the Lord rest at the Second Coming.

4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Zechariah 14:4 

(4)  I answered…What are these: Zechariah appeals to his accompanying angel to explain what he is sees.  Specially, he wanted to understand the meaning of the two Olive trees and its branches (see vs. 11,12).  Before the angel explains the meaning, he illustrates it by using Zerubbabel the Jewish governor of Judah, a descendent of David, and forefather of Jesus in both the line of Mary and Joseph, as an illustration.

(5) Do you not know: Zechariah probably recognized the Menorah, but it’s the trees and bowl, which would have been new to Zechariah, which he did not understand. He asks the angel twice what is the meaning of what he is seeing. (see vs. 11,12)

 Message to Zerubbabel

6 So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the Lord of hosts. 7 'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" ' " 8 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 9 "The hands of Zerubbabel Have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. 10 For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth."

(6) He…said:The accompanying angel now helps Zechariah understand the meaning by applying it to Zerubbabel. 

Word of the Lord: This phrase is used 13 times in the book of Zechariah and 249 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament).  The Hebrew word for “Word” is rbdDabar, meaning speech, word, speaking. God communicating His Word to us, through his prophets, a message from God, Himself.

Zerubbabel: Zerubbabel along with Joshua returned from the land of Babylon, when Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, who conquered Babylon, allowed the descendents of Israel to return to the land of Judah.  (Ezra 2:2)  He was descended from King David, through the line of Pedaiah.

Descendent of Zerubbabel



727-695 B.C. King of Judah


695-642  King of Judah


642-640 King of Judah


640-609 King of Judah


609-597 King then captive

Shealtiel (Pedaiah)[1]

Captive in Babylon


538-515 Appointed Governor

            Zerubbabel returned in 538 B.C. along with the rest of the captivity, numbering almost 50,000.  In 537 B.C. September-October the foundation of the 2nd  Temple was laid, but not completed.

(For Zerubbabel see…I Chron. 3:19, Ezra 2:2, 3:2,8, 4:2-3, 5:2, Nehemiah 7:7, 12:1,47, Haggai 1:1,12,14 2:2,4,21,23)


1 And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off.
Ezra 3:1-2,10,12-13

 The Temple project had stalled and God sent Zechariah and Haggai to encourage the people with the Word from the Lord.  Zechariah in 519 B.C. prophesied its completion.

 Not by might….power:  In chapter 3, the message was to Joshua the High Priest, in chapter 4, the message is to Zerubbabel.  Though the Temple was not yet complete, it completion did not depend on human might and will. The project’s completion depended on the Lord’s Spirit.  The flowing oil in the lamps was a picture of the spirit of God, which is the fuel source for the lamps.

But …My Spirit:  Though completion of the Temple seemed like an impossible task, since Persian authorities halted the Temple’s construction, following charges of rebellion.  Zerubbabel was powerless against Persian might.  This was precisely the point, man required human might and power, which was powerless against God’s Spirit.

            The message to Zerubbabel was not rely on might or human will but God alone, he was to resist human effort and make his appeal to the Lord, who would complete the task through His Spirit.

(7)  Great mountain: Mountains in scripture denote kingdoms.  The kingdom of God, is presented as great mountain, which encompasses the whole earth. (Daniel 2:35,44)  This great mountain here is the Persian kingdom, which is resisting the completion of the Temple.  The question is, who is Persia, that it should oppose the servant of the Lord...

Become a plain:the Mountain of the Persian Kingdom will be laid flat when the Spirit of the Lord, works through Zerubbabel.  The mighty Persian Empire, described as a mountain will do the will of God, when Zerubbabel operates under the Sprits authority.  God’s glory is exalted through our weakness.   Take David the Sheppard boy who slew Goliath a warrior since his youth, he alone brought fear to the armies of Israel.  Yet David, a boy who tended flock was able to bring him to the ground with only a stone.  David operated under the Spirit, therefore God was able to get the glory.  The same could be said of Daniel and Joseph two captives in foreign lands who rise to the level prime minister, through the power of God’s Spirit.

            The Persian mountain, also would be made plain before Zerubbabel, the Jewish governor and descendent of David.

Bring forth the capstone:  There are ceremonial stones in the completion of a building; the first stone is the cornerstone or foundation stone, the foundation stone begins the rest of the building. The second stone is the capstone, which tops off the building. 

            Zerubbabel was a type or picture of the Messiah, like Joshua the High Priest.  Both the High Priest and Governor pictured the dual office held by Messiah as King and Priest. (Zech. 9:9, Psalm 110:4) Zerubbabel along with Joshua laid the foundation stone, and the promise is made that Zerubbabel as governor will complete the Temple, with the capstone.

Grace:  When the capstone is brought forth, it is hailed with the word Grace.  In chapter 3, Joshua the High Priest is  before a stone also, that stone has seven-eyes and an inscription regarding sin.

 For behold, the stone That I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' Says the Lord of hosts, 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. Zechariah 3:8

The stone before Joshua, proclaims in one day iniquity will be removed from the land.  This same stone has seven eyes, representing the omniscience of God.  We find the stone before Zerubbabel to be the very same stone before Joshua.  The capstone to the Temple, symbolizes the finished work and Grace of the Messiah, whose death brings (Isaiah 53) forgiveness to the whole world.  For this reason, when the capstone is brought forward, there are shouts of “Grace” because it is through the death of Messiah (Christ), God offers grace to humanity.

(8) Word of the Lord: The Lord testifies to the evidence of Zechariah, by completing the task. The evidence is fulfillment of the prophecy.

(9) Hands of Zerubbabel:  Zerubbabel as governor over Judah, was a picture of the Messiah, who would also build His Temple, and complete His Temple.  Zerubbabel as the type would do the same.  The Temple is really a picture of the true Temple, which made up of bricks of believers, with Christ as the head.  Jesus declared Himself greater then the Temple completed by Zerubbabel.

 "Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. Matthew 12:6

Peter says the believers are the stones in this spiritual house.

 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. I Peter 2:5

  (10) Despised the day:  The Temple’s completion was met with sorrow and was despised by some, who saw the first Temple, built by Solomon.  To them, this Temple was inferior in majesty and glory.  According to the prophets, the 2nd Temple would exceed the first Temple. How can this be? Since, the “Presence” of the Lord entered Solomon’s Temple when it was finished.

Both Haggai and Malachi proclaim the glory of the Temple completed by Zerubbabel.

            Malachi referring the 2nd Temple completed by Zerubbabel proclaims, The Lord himself will come to his Temple, saying, he will prepare the way before “Me”. 

 Mal 3:1 "Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the Lord of hosts. Mal 3:2 "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderer's soap.  Malachi 3:1-2

             Further, this individual is also called, The Lord, whom you seek and the Messenger of the Covenant.  This was proclaimed, regarding the 2nd Temple and fulfilled when the King of Jerusalem, the Messiah came to His Temple.

            Haggai also writes about the coming glory of the 2nd Temple, that it will surpass that of the 1st Temple. 

 Hag 2:7 'and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the Lord of hosts. Hag 2:8 'The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' says the Lord of hosts. Hag 2:9 'The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,' says the Lord of hosts. 'And in this place I will give peace,' says the Lord of hosts." Haggai 2:7-9

The glory of the second will surpass the first, because the LORD Himself, will fulfill its picture when He comes to His Temple, and becomes the sacrifice.

 seven rejoice: These seven, refers to the eyes on the capstone, the eyes of the Lord which scan the earth.   The Lord rejoices because the stone is a picture of Christ, with an inscription abut sins’ removal from the land in a single day.

For behold, the stone That I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' Says the Lord of hosts, 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. Zechariah 3:8

Scan… the whole earth:  Nothing on the earth passes the Lord’s attention.  He surveys all of humanity.

 "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars." 2 Chron. 16:9

 Meaning of the vision

11 Then I answered and said to him, "What are these two olive trees-at the right of the lampstand and at its left?" 12 And I further answered and said to him, "What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?" 13 Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." 14 So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth." Zechariah 4:11-13


(11)What are these two olive trees?:   The identity of these trees is not totally clear, and the only other reference in scripture referring to this verse comes from the book of Revelation.  Zechariah repeats this question twice, being more specific the second time asking about the two olive branches.

            Most interpreters feel these two trees represent the two offices of the Messiah, King and Priest, through which a supply of oil is fed to the lamp via the bowl.   Joshua the High Priest (Chapter 3) and Zerubbabel the Governor (Chapter 4) were types or pictures of the coming Messiah, representing these two offices as priest and king. 

            The Lampstand is the only light in the Temple and Tabernacle, this light represents the light of the Lord, which illuminates the world with truth.  In New Jerusalem there is no light, or Temple because the Lamb (Jesus the Messiah) is the light of  the city.

 Re 21:22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. Re 21:23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. Re 21:24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Revelation 21:22-24

 Isaiah also calls the coming of the Messiah, the light to the gentiles. Jesus (Joshua) the Messiah, who came into the world and died for the sins of the world, bringing salvation to the gentiles, the non-Jewish nations, fulfilled this verse.

 "I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles, Isaiah 42:6

The fuel of the lamp was olive oil, maintained by the priests in the Temple, here however, the two trees offer a continual supply of oil to the Lamp.  Therefore, we can see the two offices of Messiah, as our Priest and King, he offers himself as the light of the world two the nations. The Holy Spirit, is represented by the oil which feeds the Lamp its fuel and proceeds from the trees.

 (14)These are the two anointed ones:  More specifically, Zechariah wanted to know the meaning of the two branches, which drip into the receptacle. The word branch is directly applied to both the Messiah and his types in Zechariah.  In chapter 3,  Joshua the High Priest and his fellows represent a picture or a sign of the coming BRANCH.

 'Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. Zechariah 3:8

            In the book of Revelation, in the tribulation period, we see two individuals representing the Lord on the earth.  One of the individuals is Elijah, according to Malachi 4:5, who the Jewish people wait for today. The other is not named, but is either Enoch or Moses.  Both Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus on the mountain. These two witnesses are referred to as the two olive trees, which stand before the Lord of the earth.

 Re 11:3 "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." Re 11:4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.  Revelation 11:3-4

They represent the two offices of Messiah as in the first half of the tribulation, dripping the oil for the light to the nations, proclaiming the Gospel to the world for 1260 days.


[1] Zerubbabel is actually the son of Pedaiah, but called the son of Shealtiel because he was in the line of succession but probably lacked an heir. ( I Chron. 3:17-19)